How to Tell Someone’s Age When You Only Know Their Name
My name is Lisa, can you guess how old I am? If you didn’t know anything about me (like that I grew up during a time when Hanson was on the radio) besides my name, data experts now say you could still come up with an approximate age range.
Any guesses? According to Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, I’m likely in my 40s. Sorry to burst your bubble chart, Nate, but I’m actually not even 30 yet. The site recently posted a super interesting study about how to tell someone’s age using nothing but their name. As the Silver crew is known to do, they use stats and data to come up with probable median ages, this time based on the popularity of American baby names throughout the years.
It’s an easier game to play when it comes to the ladies, since girl baby names go in and out of popularity quicker than boys’ do, but even that’s changing. As they put it, “Eva, Mia, Sophia, Ella and Isabella might be friends with Mason and Liam in their kindergarten classes.” If you know a lot of people having babies right now, you know that those names are spot on. If you’re thinking about having a baby yourself, you might want to avoid them to de-risk your child being the 3rd “Sophia” in her kindergarten class. Here are more of the most popular female names for little girls right now:
Now, check out the disparity of the “oldest female names” — do you have a grandma with one of these?
If you hear the name Betty, it’s a safe bet that she’s a median 73 years old (unless of course, she’s Betty White, at 92 — though let’s face it, that woman has the heart of a 73-year-old).
On a more accurate note, if your name is Brittany, like our namesake founder, you were probably born in the mid 80s to mid 90s. Brit(tany) Morin happens to have been born in 1985, proving this specific result quite accurate.
If you think a name says nothin’ about a number, let’s see how sharp you are at guessing someone’s age by looking at a photo of them. While it sounds easy, I can attest that it might not be as simple as you think. And if you’ve ever been put on the spot by someone begging you to guess their age (ps, 29 is usually a good age to go with, especially if that’s a big undersell) you will agree.
AgeGuess is a citizen science project that’s investigating the difference between perceived age (how old people think you are) vs. your actual age. The study is, frankly, pretty fun, because we all get to be a part of it. You can upload a photo of yourself and click through photos of others to guess their age. Take their quiz (in the name of science!!) here. The more people that use it, the more data they have to work with. And, the more fun it is.
Not enough people have used it yet for the AgeGuess to make any huge proclamations, but the preliminary stats they shared with Co.Exist are pretty interesting. So far they’ve discovered that it is easier in general to guess a man’s age and, while both genders are equally good at guessing the age of a male, women are better than men at guessing the age of other females.
Looking through photos on the site, I guessed 42 for a man and 44 for a woman that I clicked on. And I was very wrong. The man was actually 47, and the woman (eek) 28. Sorry, girl, I’m not so good at this, I guess. But then, it looks like I’m not alone.
How about you? Do people think you are older or younger than you are when you meet them?